City should stop foot dragging on critically needed affordable housing in Haight-Ashbury

Residents want a firm commitment on project at 730 Stanyan Street

By Lisa Awbry, Tes Welborn and David Woo

It has been four years since The City first announced its interest in developing 730 Stanyan St., the site of the old McDonald’s, into a 100% affordable housing development. Since that time the community has had scores of meetings, with and without The City, to define the project. The problem is that there are still no firm plans by The City to develop this critically needed site, even after the community reached a widely held consensus on the nature of that development. What we have not gotten is a commitment on the part of Mayor London Breed to build the widely supported project. Indeed, the development team chosen by The City canceled its fifth public meeting (scheduled for April 2021) on the development, with no firm date as to when the next meeting will occur. The project is in limbo.

In 2018, the Coalition for a Complete Community — made up of local residents, service providers and neighborhood groups — devised and released its “Visions and Goals” statement for the site after a series of neighborhood meetings. This community vision statement was the result of a series of public neighborhood meetings. It called for 100% deeply affordable development that included housing for three distinct populations: 1) transitional age youth; 2) families with dependent children; and 3) seniors.

It also called for neighborhood serving retail businesses and social services to be included on the ground floor, along with community meeting space in a transit-oriented development that will take full advantage of the five transit lines within walking distance of the site.

The nonprofit developer team has held four community meetings over the last two years, and this past February presented a plan for a six-story, 120-unit development that was substantially the same as that recommended by the community in April 2018, with one key exception: no firm commitment for senior housing, just a promise to “affirmatively market” to low-income community seniors. There were some objections raised at the Feb. 4 meeting concerning the building design and the failure to commit to dedicated senior units. The primary purpose of the now canceled April meeting was to address those concerns. But the community consensus was pretty firm: The need is for five stories of housing for extremely low and very low-income transitional age youth, families and seniors and above-ground floor uses for retail and nonprofits serving both building and neighborhood residents in a transit-oriented development.

With the unexpected cancellation of the fifth public meeting in April, the future of the development is in doubt. This suspension will have a negative impact on the CAMP Safe Sleeping Village currently located on the site, but slated to close in June because of the pending affordable housing development. The uncertainty about the affordable housing development has now produced uncertainty about the future of the Safe Sleeping Village, a critically important service that has gotten scores of unhoused folks off of the streets of the Haight-Ashbury.

Closing the CAMP site when The City is unable to say where the campers are to go next in order to make way for a postponed affordable housing development would undo hundreds of hours of progress and hard work by local community members.

We in the Haight-Ashbury need the mayor to make a commitment to build the widely supported affordable housing outlined here, make firm commitments to house our seniors in this development and to find alternative housing for the folks being asked to leave the CAMP site. We simply don’t understand the mayor’s delay and ask you to join with us in getting her attention on this critically important corner of Haight and Stanyan.

Lisa Awbry, Tes Welborn and David Woo are steering committee members for the Coalition for a Complete Community at 730 Stanyan.

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